Although USB drives are considered safer than cloud data storage platforms, your data will be at risk if not protected with a password.
There are several simple ways to secure your USB drive using the encryption feature. Follow our easy guide on how to protect a flash drive with a password.
Please note that USB encryption is only applicable on Windows and Mac and is not supported in Chromebooks.
How to Password Protect a USB Drive
Here are some useful software and app recommendations to protect your USB drive.
BitLocker is a free built-in encryption feature on Windows. It is easy to use and available on earlier versions of Windows as well.
- Connect your USB to your computer.
- Hit right-click on your USB drive and from the menu, choose Turn on BitLocker.
- Click on Use a password to unlock the drive and enter your new password. Click on Next.
- BitLocker will ask you to choose one of the ways to save your password. Click on Save to your Microsoft account.
- Now, you’ll get to choose how much content of your drive you want to encrypt. Choose Encrypt the entire drive and click on Next.
- On the next page, you can pick one of the encryption modes. We recommend selecting Compatible mode if you use your USB on other devices often. Click on Next.
- Click on Start Encrypting.
After the process ends, your drive becomes secure with a password. Doing this method once is enough as your drive will always remain safe even when you add new data to it.
This is a suitable, accessible option if you don’t want to install third-party apps.
Rohos Mini Drive
Rohos Mini Drive is a free software that uses automatic encryption with AES 256-bit key length. It allows you to easily encrypt or hide your data on your USB drive by adding an encrypted drive.
So, you can use non-sensitive data without worrying and access encrypted data only when needed. Another cool feature about this software is that you do not need administrator rights to run it. Here’s how you can use the Rohos Mini Drive to protect your USB drive.
- Connect your USB drive to your computer.
- Open Rohos Mini Drive and click on Encrypt USB drive.
- Now, you can choose a new password to encrypt and click on Create disk.
- The encryption process will now begin and you can see it on a pop-up box. After it’s done, you’ll get a completion message.
- Now, open your File Explorer and in the list of drives, you can see a new drive called, Encrypted Disk. This is a separate drive, so it won’t be located inside your USB drive.
- Now, you can transfer your desired files to the new encrypted disk.
- If you remove the USB from your computer, the encrypted drive will also be removed together.
Later, when you reconnect your USB drive and open your encrypted files, go to the Rohos Mini executable file. Enter your password, and you’ll get access to your files.
VeraCrypt is another decent app by Idrix and is available on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. Although it requires admin rights, it’s easy to use since it directly operates from your USB drive. This app uses various encryption algorithms, like AES 256-bit, Serpent, TwoFish, and more.
With VeraCrypt, you can get an independent encrypted disk. It’s best to note that you can only encrypt data of 2GB size. If you need more, you can get its premium version.
Here’s how you can use VeraCrypt:
- Open the app and you’ll see the list of drives. Select one and click on Create Volume. It will open the VeraCrypt Volume Creation Wizard.
- If you want to encrypt your whole drive, choose Encrypt a non-system partition and click on Next.
- Now, you can pick either Standard or Hidden VeraCrypt volume. If you pick the hidden volume, it will be safer, but you’ll need to format the USB drive. So, click on Standard and click on Select Device.
- Select your USB disk and click on OK and then Next.
- Click on Encrypt partition in place and click on Next.
- Click on Encryption and Hash Algorithm. Click on Next and set your desired volume size, and again click on Next.
- Set a new Volume Password and click on Next.
- Move your mouse around until the bar color turns green, and click on Format.
USB Drive Encryption Feature on MacOS
You may not need extra apps or software if you use a Macbook or iMac due to its built-in encryption feature in the Finder utility.
Here’s how you can password protect a USB drive on a Mac.
- First, you need to format your drive as a GUID Partition Map only.
- You’ll see a Scheme pop-up menu; click on GUID Partition Map.
- Launch Finder and hit right-click on your USB drive. Select Encrypt.
- Set a new password and verify it.
- Now, click on Encrypt Disk.
Your encryption process is now complete.
Cryptsetup on Linux
A free and exclusive feature on the Linux repository, Cryptsetup can password protect your USB drive. You can use it to create cryptographic volumes with the help of AES 256-bit encryption.
Here’s how you can use Cryptsetup on Linux:
- Install Gnome disk utility and Cryptsetup, which you can get from sudo apt-get.
- Open Disks and search for your flash drive. You can either choose to format the drive or only a single partition.
- Set up a new password.
Please note that it will not work if you want to use your flash drive’s encrypted files on other devices, like Windows.
More Tips on How to Password-Protect a USB Drive
There are some more tips on protecting your USB drive data that are worth mentioning.
Even if you’re not a tech-savvy person, you must’ve noticed this file archiver, called WinRAR on Windows. It helps you save space by compressing big-size data.
But did you know that you can even use it to encrypt your data? You can choose to encrypt selected files and folders. Here’s how you can use WinRAR.
- Hit right-click on your chosen folder. Click on Add to archive.
- Now, you can give a new name to your file and click on RAR as an archive format. Now, select Set password.
- Choose the Encrypt file names radio box and click on OK.
Your new files will be ready and you can access them with a password.
Set Passwords on Selected Files
If you want to encrypt a few files, you can easily give them a USB password. You can even save files with encryption directly on programs like Word and Excel.
Simply open a file on Word, open File and then Info. Open the Protect Document menu and click on Encrypt with Password. Set a new password and save your document.
PDFTK Builder Portable
If you want to encrypt your important resumes or such pdf files, PDFTK Builder Portable is a useful utility. It allows you to set different passwords for the owner and the user.
Besides password protection, PDFTK Builder also lets you collate, split, rotate, and more to modify your pdf files.